“Oh, we believe there are angels among us,
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live
To teach us how to give
To guide us with the light of love.”
With aching hearts, her family wish to share the sad news that our beloved mother and sister, Pat (Trish) Culhane left us peacefully, surrounded by the love of her family, at the Belleville General Hospital on Sunday, November 8, 2020. Pat is survived by her son, Tim Walsh of Ottawa, who was the “light of her life”, and her siblings who cherished her so: Anne Bunnett (Harold), Michael Culhane, Peter Culhane (Fran Strasser), Gregory Culhane, Stephen Culhane, Colleen Parks (late John), all of Belleville, and John Culhane (Debbie) of Calgary. Also, she is remembered as special Aunt Trish to her many nieces (especially Carly Culhane), nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. As well, her cousins, friends and colleagues, too numerous to mention in her many life circles, will deeply mourn her loss. Pre-deceased by our loving parents, Frank and Doris Culhane, our darling brother Tim (1972), her sister-in-law, Gail Culhane, her brother-in-law, John Parks, her nieces Kimberly Culhane and Shelly Bunnett-Hill, and her nephew David Bunnett.
All of her life, family was most important to our dear Trish. She was the soul of the family, supporting each one of us as we faced life’s trials and celebrating the times that brought us all joy. Often, she was heard to say that she was happiest when she brought her siblings around her harvest table to laugh, to share each others’ jokes and many stories, and to watch us devour the delicious meals that she had prepared, topped up with her famous cornflake pie. Oh the happy times we had!
Trish’ amazing career as a nurse began in 1968 at the Belleville General Hospital and how she loved the children in her care in the pediatric department, and continued in the emergency department where she was “a beacon of hope” for the many patients she encountered there. Many stories could be told of Trish going above and beyond, and helping patients and their families in their times of need. Along with her colleagues, she mentored many young nurses (and doctors) as they began their careers. Among the many tributes that have poured into our homes since her passing, Dr. John Bonn, declared that she was “the best nurse he ever worked with” and along with their work, the laughter she shared with him and others will be remembered with smiles. Her work in the North with the Indigenous people, particularly her time spent from 2014 to 2018, brought Trish tremendous satisfaction and a deep love for their people. Each time, before she left to go North, she would gather boxes of provisions and toys for the children to share. Among her many adventures in the North, she was chastised by the Mounties for being too close to a polar bear with her camera and she could often be found rollicking through the villages on a Skidoo.
Community service was her life-blood. Trish has been a board member, a volunteer, and a fundraiser for many charities in the city including the Quinte Humane Society, Three Oaks Foundation, Canadian Mental Health Association, and she carried out numerous other committee roles as a city councillor for Belleville. In this role, which she loved so, Trish was dynamic, hard-working, outspoken, stubborn and always ready to answer any call for help from the public. You knew where she stood on every issue! During her admirable run for mayor in 2014, Trish was delighted when a relative in Ireland told her that the 576 citizens of Glin, Limerick, our ancestral home, followed her campaign closely and gathered together the night of the election. How sorry we were that these supporters couldn’t vote! Bravely, in her many public speaking engagements, she often shared her personal stories, including her own experience of abuse, her struggle with cancer, and because of this, she helped so many people.
Supporting local businesses was her passion and thriftiness was her goal. On the day of her first swearing in ceremony at City Hall, she delighted in telling her sister, when her outfit was complimented, that everything she had on was second hand, except her underwear. One of her brothers was heard to say, “She would drive 50 miles to save a dollar”.
Delighting in her nicknames over the years, which included Walshy, Souc, Culhaney, and Sid, she will be sorely missed around the family table, at charity gatherings, at council meetings, at thrift stores, at the library and in the downtown where she stopped to chat (or really, anywhere). Because of her love for people and animals, if you wish, donations would be gratefully received at the Quinte Humane Society or The Three Oaks Foundation.
Due to COVID restrictions, no public wake will be held and only the family will gather for a graveside service at St. James’ Cemetery. Hopefully, a rousing Celebration of Life will take place in the future. Arrangements for the graveside service are entrusted to the Steele Funeral Home, Moira Street Chapel.
The family is full of gratitude for the outpouring of love, stories, tributes, and total support we have already received during this time of intense grief and loss. In particular the medical team who attended to her: Dr. Craig Bolton, Dr. Roger Leong, Dr. Craig Holt, Dr. Emily Winsor, Dr. Michael Kahn, nurse Colleen Love, and Trish’ long time friend and colleague, Jo-Anne Dodds who guided us through the last difficult night. We hope that she is jiving with Johnny Doran, organizing St. Peter’s life, and negotiating with God about the arrival of the rest of the siblings. Darling mother and sister, rest in the peace that you have earned in this life.